Q. I think primary schools should allow students to take their personal laptops to schools to help with schoolwork. My son was asked not to take his back, as the teacher said it distracted the other children. These are modern times.
A. I think the school may have been very concerned about the security of the computer. For many, a laptop is still a novelty. Have your son use his computer at home and protect him from losing it.
Q. My son will be sitting the Grade Nine Achievement Test this year and, to my surprise, there is no composition section. I was told that there are only multiple-choice questions. He writes very well and I am sure that writing a composition would have helped him to get a higher score, as his math skills are not so good. Do you think they will look at something like this in the future?
A. I am sure that if enough parents advocate for an idea like the one you have shared, there may be a change. It would be good for you to meet with someone at your regional Ministry of Education office who is responsible for this test, and who may be able to guide you further and explain the reason for the test format as it is now. I hope you get him some extra help for his math skills.
Q. My friends think I am very casual about exams such as the Grade Six Achievement Test, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate, and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations. We had a heated debate a few nights ago when they thought that, because I did not believe in spending extra money on extra lessons seven days a week, I was not helping my child to get the best scores. I believe that, if a child is smart, he or she, with just going to regular classes, will do well. I think we should focus on a child's morality even more than schoolwork. What do you think?
A. Most children will do well on exams once they are guided well in the regular school day and have parent or guardian support with homework activities. Some children, however, will need special help so that they can get good scores. We need to encourage parents to be active in their children's learning from before birth, throughout pre-primary and primary levels, and during high school. As a nation, we place heavy emphasis on passing exams and the behaviour of the children is not many times a priority.
Orlean Brown-Earle, PhD, is a child psychologist and family therapist. Dr Brown-Earle works with children with learning and behaviour problems throughout the island and in the Caribbean. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or send to Ask the Doc, c/o The Gleaner Company, 7 North Street, Kingston. Responses to concerns are to be considered as general, as cases shared with psychologists privately would be queried more deeply. Pray always!